Tulare Pediatric Group is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year — the group has served the children of Tulare and its surrounding communities since 1978.
Dr. Prem Kamboj began his practice in Tulare in 1978; Dr. Susan Haack joined the group in 1992, Dr. Asit Shah in 1996, and Dr. Robert Orth in 2004.
In that 40-year timespan, a lot has changed — but one thing, by all accounts, hasn’t: the dedication and enjoyment of the group’s doctors and support staff to serving children.
“We enjoy taking care of kids,” Dr. Prem Kamboj said, stating that it was especially touching when “patients grow up and come back with their babies — and we take care of their family members.”
“As long as I’m enjoying what I do, I have no plan to retire,” he said.
Part of that commitment to children includes outreach to the community, including sponsoring events like Tulare Sober Grad, Tulare Kids Day, and Encore Kids Theater.
The group’s connection to the community can also be a bit more literal — including catching up with the families that the group serves.
Veronica Castro, a long-time medical assistant at Tulare Pediatric, said she’s regularly stopped — or been stopped — to chat with her patients’ parents as she’s running her normal errands in Tulare, including at the grocery store.
“Everywhere I go, I’m going to stop and see someone,” she said.
She was introduced to the practice in a medical externship, shadowing at the office, and she’s been working with the group for over 20 years.
“I just enjoy my job, the kids, the people, and my coworkers,” she added. “It fulfills my life.”
Changes along the way
Among the key changes that Kamboj has seen in his time practicing in Tulare are the upheaval at the Tulare Regional Medical Center; he previously served on the Tulare Local Healthcare District board.
He said that his time on the board deeply affected his family — but that, aside from those years, his time in Tulare has been “very good.”
He’s optimistic about the future of healthcare in Tulare now that the hospital has reopened — adding that improvement was likely, since the city had already reached the bottom.
The other major change, he said, has been the problems that his patients face.
When he started, the main problems were infections and meningitis, he said; but, with newer vaccines and their uptake, those have practically disappeared.
Now, childhood obesity and mental health are the main issues he sees his patients come in with.
Picking just the right people
Kamboj stated that the group is considering adding another, recently interviewed, physician.
“We need to keep adding,” he said.
But while there is an increasing shortage of physicians nationwide — and especially in the Central Valley — he said that it was important to ensure any new additions were a good fit with his patients.
“Our focus is care with compassion,” he said. “They need to have a similar approach to the patient.”